They're Building a Box -
and you're in it
pull back the wizard's curtain and throw the chains from your brain
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On Green Island
They're Building a Box and you're in it
Dave Patterson
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From Hastings to Green Island
a word on the Writer

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. - Paulo Freire

... the will of the people is the product and not the motive power of the political process…. Issues and popular will on any issue are… manufactured.... Joseph Schumpeter

Jesus Camp
Jesus Camp

Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group. - Edward Bernays

Chapter 6 - Indoctrination 2: Get em early

I am sure you still have more questions than answers, so let's have a look at exactly how all of this indoctrination of Canadians happens, in our great free democracy.

Think about the beginning of life, in Canada or anywhere. That newborn baby knows next to nothing about anything. It can find a nipple and suck by instinct, and cry when it is hungry or otherwise unhappy about something - but what does it know about democracy, about money, about our society, about religion, about language, about the history of Canada or the world or the universe or humanity, or science or music, about government, about what things are true or not true, about almost anything?

Basically nothing, of course - with the exception of a small set of survival instincts, the newborn child essentially comes into the world with its brain a 'tabula rasa', or blank slate - or perhaps, to use a modern example, a big, empty computer, just waiting to have somebody install programs and things so it can get on with its life. And there is, of course, one more central instinct in that brand new pristine mind/computer - a great drive to learn things, to start putting stuff onto that immense, and immensely powerful, grey matter hard drive. Even shortly after birth, that new baby starts to look around and experiment and try to figure things out, in those periods it is not eating or crying or sleeping, and as it gets older, and the brain starts to form patterns and understand things, that learning process gets quicker and quicker. It is truly one of the wonders of the universe, and still something even our best scientists still know remarkably little about.

But where does that baby learn the things it learns as it grows? For the first few most important formative years, where does that programming come from, and what does it consist of?

And it is very important, as you consider this, to have it in your mind also - at that young age, with that mostly blank computer, the new infant human has no say about what programs are put into its brain. It has no defenses against untruths, no ability to judge if something it is told is true or not; in its great drive for information to help it start to understand and learn about the world around it, it just believes the things its programmers, whoever they happen to be, tell it, as it sucks up input from all around like a great huge sponge.

And there are a couple of other inner influences as well, when you think about it, concerning the things that spongelike mind learns and believes, once it begins to get beyond the 'cry for food and sleep and shit' stage, once it begins to have some vague appreciation of the greater world around it. For the first few years, say between the ages of birth and six or seven years at least, the human child needs to please those adults in its life it depends on for food and shelter and other things it wants or needs as it grows - make the adult or other controlling figures in its life happy, get lots of stuff, make the adult unhappy, risk punishment of various sorts, if only through denial of things it wants. Many parents even do this overtly - eat your peas if you want your ice cream, do your homework if you want to watch television, I'll spank you if you do that again, and etc and etc. (At a later age as the maturing child begins to feel desires for independence and even rebellion as certain adult-style hormones start circulating, these things may play out differently as the factors change, but at the very youngest, most important ages in terms of basic programming of that developing brain and mind, the child simply needs to please, or appease, the nurturer to keep the life support flowing at the max rate; most children do this eagerly and willingly anyway, having no reason to be suspicious of their teachers' motives, and trying to please mommy and the other teachers by their good behaviour). And of course in most cases, certainly in a modern, technologically advanced, socially caring and prosperous country like Canada, the child is well rewarded for learning what it is supposed to learn, with pats on the head and gold stars from teachers, and smiles and treats from the 'adults' around it for demonstrating it is doing well in learning the things they want it to learn, which have the 'feedback loop' effect of positively reinforcing the 'pleasing' strategy and encouraging the child to continue with doing its best to please those beings who are raising it by learning what they want it to learn - programming that brain in this strategy, in an important sense.

Encouraging the child to do well, in other words, in embracing the things the adults it is learning from want it to learn. Very, very includable in the basic Pavlovian definition of 'indoctrination' - reward and punishment to encourage/discourage certain behaviors.

And also, of course, the small growing human instinctively wants to become the same as the older beings of which he or she is one, to become one of the tribe, behaving as those adult members of its species behave, believing what they believe, just as a baby kitten instinctively mimics the habits of the mother cat and not a bird, or an elephant becomes an elephant and not a giraffe - what the adults of my species do is what 'I' want to do, and as soon as possible - the most basic of instincts - the young animal instinctively knows that becoming an adult as soon as possible means they will no longer be dependent on those who currently supply their basic needs, and independence is more secure than dependence. So wanting to please those who are raising the human baby includes, of course, believing what its protector-raisers tell it about the world and trying to learn to behave as they behave, which is also part of the information-gathering process the young computer mind is going through, trying to gather as much information about the world around it as it can, to hasten the day it achieves some sort of independence, becomes an adult in its society, and thus achieves more security than being dependent on other givers. If those dominant people tell the child over and over again that something is true, and the child sees the adults regularly behaving in ways that indicate the adult actually believes such 'truths' itself, the child has no reason not to believe that these things are normal behaviors and beliefs for the adult members of its species, in normal circumstances, and so of course the child unquestioningly believes these things and seeks to mimic the behaviors, as it gets on with learning other things on top of these basic beliefs and behaviors. And as time passes, and those first beliefs are reinforced again and again by the people around the growing child with few if any contradictions, and the growing child adopts the behaviors and beliefs, they become more or less hard-wired into the brain, and thus very, very difficult to remove or change at a later time.

But the point can be raised that a cat raising a kitten to become a cat may qualify as 'indoctrination' in a certain sense, or a human mother raising her child to be an adult in their society - but these things are natural and necessary for growth, and do not in any way imply something 'evil' or even bad is happening.

And so it is. But the same process that is used for 'good' or necessary training of the young animal, which itself may not be 'bad-intentioned' indoctrination, can also be used for things that are not good, or even could qualify as evil.

Let's have a quick consideration of different types of 'indoctrination'.

Language, for instance. In Canada we teach our children English or French, for the most part, while in China they teach Chinese and in Thailand they teach Thai and around the Arctic circle they teach various forms of Eskimo and there are dozens if not hundreds of languages of the native American peoples. Any young child could learn any of these languages (some learn several if they are lucky enough to live in an area where more than one language is spoken, and/or have parents who give them the opportunity) - but they usually learn just one. The thousands of languages of the world, both spoken and written, are all very different - but the blank tablet, or unprogrammed computer, called the human brain, learns whichever one it is taught with little trouble. Think of that - there is no language program that comes with the newly born human baby - it learns what its teachers teach it. French, German, Russian, Chinese, English, Bushman, ancient Greek.

And this is a very difficult thing to do, learn a language - but that young brain is very, very able to learn - and very, very open to the suggestions and teachings of its superiors as to what it learns - as it strives to acquire learning of all sorts from whatever sources are available to learn from - without any filters concerning truth or manipulation by its elders/teachers.

That is a very important point to keep in mind here, worth stressing again - at the youngest and most important ages of knowledge acquisition, in most normal circumstances, the child is not questioning things it is told, but believes most anything, blindly trusting the teachers and never thinking to question the drive to acquire all knowledge possible. Young Spartan boys learned that courage and ferocity as warriors were the highest ideals to strive for, and, instinctively wanting and needing to please their superiors, thus they became, and thus they remained as adults teaching their own children in turn, and Sparta still is famous as one of the great warrior societies of history. Young Quaker children learn that peace and intelligent thoughtfulness are the most important qualities a human can have, and thus they are as adults, and Quakers are famed everywhere for their peaceful and quiet ways. Young modern western children learn that buying brand-name products at malls is one of the most important things they can do to have status and define their characters in their society, and thus they become as adults.

Children behave, and believe, as they are taught to behave and believe.

Teaching the language of your community and country is fine (although even language is intimately tied up with culture and beliefs - do you have many words for war, or many words for honoring the environment, for instance? do you have a wide vocabulary that expresses many things and encourages people to ponder and become intelligent about all things, or a small vocabulary that restricts a person's thoughts or guides them to better ways of conquering an enemy? Do you have a large number of ways to express social hierarchy, or a vocabulary of equality?) - but what about other things?

What about, for instance, teaching the young children in your community, who are not questioning the things they are taught either at home or the places they are taken at very young ages for early teaching of various things depending on their society, that certain people in the world are less worthy or valuable than the teachers/students are because they are simply different? - or less than human because they have different customs or skin colors or even languages than 'we' do, or because they do not share the religion of the teachers? - that 'you' are special because 'your society' 'knows' the 'one true god' while many other people are 'less lucky' than you - but 'less lucky' obviously also meaning somehow inferior, as 'you' have some duty, and right, to 'educate' these 'less fortunate' people in your 'superior' ways, and those children and people from 'that other place' are not going to 'your heaven', because they do not believe in your god? And, of course, that you yourself are not any kind of 'independent' creature, but were actually created by the superior being you are supposed to believe in, and the only purpose of your life is to worship that superior being - as 'guided' by the 'representatives' of that superior being, whom you are taught to show all deference to when they claim to speak for that superior being.

Surely that could hardly be called something good to teach to young, innocent children - to indoctrinate them with that belief, actually, for here that word is surely appropriate - that other children, and people, in other parts of the world are inherently inferior to them - yet think about how many children - both in 'Christian' countries and in Muslim countries and in other places under different names - are taught just that by their religious teachers, with the agreement or even participation of their parents, at a very young age - 'we' are superior to 'them' because 'we' know the 'true' god and the others are infidels of some sort, lesser than 'we'.

Many people with strong religious beliefs, of many 'faiths', believe that it is alright to kill other humans of different faiths, because they are not really human if they do not believe in the 'true' god. And think for a second about how many problems THAT has led to and continues to lead to - religious differences have been either directly at or very close to the heart of most of the world's conflicts over the entire course of human history, up to and including today. Even if you are convinced that the Christian god is 'the real one' and thus the other religions are teaching their children falsely - how then would you go about explaining the terrible killings and terrorism that went on for so long in Northern Ireland, with two Christian sects doing their best to kill each other horribly for decades, or the centuries long religious wars in Europe between Catholics and Protestants and, later, Anglicans?

All led and fought by people indoctrinated to believe their beliefs, religious or otherwise, were superior to other beliefs - superior enough to be worth fighting and killing for. (I don't really believe the leaders of any of these 'religious soldiers' actually believed, then or now, all of the religious things they taught, they just used (and still use today) those beliefs to persuade their more simple-minded (well-indoctrinated) serfs/citizens/followers to go to war for them as they tried to increase their personal power, but that is not a story for this short book, whose purpose is considerably different, although not unrelated.)

But more importantly, in terms of the subject of this chapter, indoctrination, consider - were those thousands and millions of people who have done all of that killing throughout history in the name of their various gods, on either side, born believing what they did? - or were they taught those things at their parents' knees, and at the schools and churches they attended as very young, very impressionable human sponge-computers, through being indoctrinated often through fear and bullying (you will go to terrible Hell for all eternity if you do not obey!!!!!! - a very serious thing to the young mind which has no defenses against such things), and through listening to the older children they looked up to, and in the books they read (and language they learned) or, recently, television shows they watched - and, more importantly, taught these things as some sort of 'truth' that must never be questioned, and that the orders of their religious leaders must be followed without question in the name of their god whose existence and omnipotence must never be questioned?

Is there some genetic thing that tells the young growing child 'you are religion X and are thus superior to those of religion Y!!!' - or is the growing child indoctrinated with such beliefs?

Indoctrination happens. And it happens in western countries like Canada, and it begins where all effective indoctrination must begin, at the earliest stages of childhood.

The only question is how much indoctrination there is - what beliefs exactly are you being indoctrinated with? And who is controlling that indoctrination, and for what purposes?

I would hope, after reading this far, about the debt scam, and money supply scam, and democracy scam, and the theft of your work - the people who are controlling your indoctrination are starting to become known to you.

Ch 7 - Lifelong Maintenance: Full-spectrum Propaganda

On Green Island

The Box - Introduction / Ch 1: As good as it gets, or ...??? / Ch 2: The Money Supply Scam / Ch 3: The Work Scam / Ch 4: The Democracy Scam / Ch 5: How do they do this? Indoctrination / Ch 6: Indoctrination II: Get them early.. / Ch 7: Lifelong Maintenance - Full Spectrum Propaganda / Ch 8: They're Building a Box - / Ch 9: Why should I care? / Ch 10: What can I do? / Appendix 1: The National Debt Scam / Appendix 2: The Corporate Reactionary Revolution of the 70s / Appendix 3: Behind the Mask - What Capitalism Really Is / Appendix 4: Some places to start reading / Appendix 5: Perverse capitalist lies

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